WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
FEBRUARY 14, 2012
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
Eichelberg moved to approve the 2-07-12 Wright County Board Minutes. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Aud./Treas. Item #3, “Change Date Of Informational Meeting From 2-22-12 To 3-28-12” (Hiivala). Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as amended. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Russek, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: T. Morrow, Assr.; L. Lehmberg, IT; D. Cotton, L. Stine, Sher./Corr.; M. Pooler, Surv.
2. Refer Repair Of Board Room Microphones To The Building Committee.
3. Refer Minnesota Deferred Compensation (Roth) 457 Plan To The Deferred Compensation Committee.
4. O/T Report, Period Ending 1-21-12 & 2-04-12.
1. Approve Signatures On Partial Release Of Mortgage, 6897 Quinn Avenue N.W., South Haven, MN 55382, PID #217-000-321-113 (Part of Section 32, Township 121, Range 28, Southside Township).
1. Parks Department 2011 Annual Report.
Fred Bengtson, MN DNR Area Wildlife Manager, requested approval of a Water Management Area (WMA) acquisition on Pelican Lake. The purchase involves three parcels (158 acres in Section 15, T120N, R24W, City of St. Michael). The purpose is to establish this as the St. Michael Meadows State WMA as part of the Pelican Lake Enhancement Project. He referenced a map reflecting the Pelican Lake Wildlife Management Area which shows some of the acquisitions completed. The proposed purchase is downstream on Regal Creek, closer to the City of St. Michael. City Planner Mike Weigle was present for discussion. Bengtson said the DNR is working with the City on this project. Some of the components of the project tie in with the City’s interests in terms of stormwater management planning. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #12-17, seconded by Mattson. Mattson asked whether there will still be tax revenue generated by the properties. Bengtson said there will be. The information supplied by Bengtson reflects that the State will make PILT tax payments to Wright County. Thelen asked about land ownership. Bengtson said this involves three properties but would prefer not to disclose ownership information as he is negotiating with other landowners in the area. Sawatzke said the County used to be involved with ditches in this area but the City has since taken this area over. He asked whether this is the area known as the “sod fields” that historically had problems with flooding. Weigle responded that is correct. Sawatzke said that in previous years, property owners expressed concerns to the County about water on their properties. He said the fact that they are looking at this area for stormwater retention ponds seems to be a viable solution to problems in the past. Bengtson said the goal is to tie the DNR’s interests in with the City’s, and there seems to be general agreement in that specific area. The Fish & Wildlife Service is also looking at additional parcels in the area. There has been a lot of support from landowners around the Lake. A creel survey is being completed this year by the DNR Fisheries Division. Bengtson said that data reflects over 80% of fishermen value land acquisition around the Lake. There are differing opinions on water level management. The DNR is encouraged with the interest in Pelican Lake and support continues to grow. Legacy funding will be used toward the project. The acquisition of the St. Michael Meadows WMA will be through a State RIM match. A large donation of land was made in Hennepin County for a wildlife area. Thelen asked what the ultimate goal is in this effort. Bengtson said that the DNR considers this a major endeavor and will talk with willing sellers around the Lake.
The partnership formed between the DNR and the Fish & Wildlife Service is mutual, and they all agree they would like to see the area buffered and have it available for public use. The primary goals for public use are hunting, trapping and hiking. Other goals include habitat features on the landscape for wildlife production, buffering water, and the soil aspect. The main focus is on water quality improvement on the Lake and downstream. This provides positive results for wildlife and water fowl use. The WMA will be open to public hiking all year but closed to hunting and trapping, except for permitted hunting for disabled individuals and special youth hunts.
Mattson referenced an area outside of St. Michael that flooded in the past. He asked whether this effort will help the City address this problem in case it happens again. Weigle said they have been working closely with the DNR and see the benefits of stormwater management. This is especially true in the Meadow Pond area. The DNR has a control structure planned just before CR 35 that will control and regulate the water flow. The control structure will help with areas downstream that have a lot of erosion, such as Regal Creek. Mattson asked if all property owners are supportive. Weigle said that there are a few property owners that the DNR still will work with. Overall, Weigle said the project will improve the Pelican Lake area as well as downstream effects toward the Crow River. The City wants some areas downstream fixed first, and the DNR has agreed to address the Creek erosion issues. When that is stabilized, they can work further upstream. The motion to adopt Resolution #12-17 carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Greg Kramber, Assessor, requested the Board set the 2012 County Board of Appeal and Equalization Meetings. The County Board of Appeal and Equalization may meet on any meeting day in June, after the second Friday in June, and for up to ten meeting days. For 2012, the Board may convene on any day after 6-08-12. Minnesota Statutes reflect that at least one of the meeting days must include a meeting that does not end before 7:00 P.M. The County may have a Saturday meeting in lieu of or in addition to the extended meeting times. The requirement for appointments must be clearly stated on the valuation notice. Russek moved to set the 2012 County Board of Appeal and Equalization Meetings for 6-11-12 from 4:00-7:00 P.M. with a continuation to 6-12-12 starting at 11:00 A.M., if needed. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried unanimously.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, brought forth discussion on County Ditch 38. Keith Duske and Pat Salonek, benefitted property owners on the Ditch, were present for discussion. Kerry Saxton, SWCD provided an update on recent investigative work completed on Ditch 38. He provided a map of the area and an overview of work completed to investigate problems. A broken inlet was found along with some tile in disrepair. That has been replaced. Near the swamp, they found a plastic tile from the wetland (12” tile) which they investigated for about 30’. The tile has back fall so it is not working as well as it could. Saxton said they were told (and the Ditch file indicates) that at one point, the tile was re-routed with plastic tile around the sewage treatment pond for the trailer park. Saxton said they did not locate the plastic tile but they did find the original concrete tile. He referenced a power pole on the map (underground power) where the tile line disappears 3’ from the power line. Upon further investigation, it was found the line runs directly under the power pole. It is unclear whether the tile is damaged from when the power line was put in. The tile appears to be intact everywhere they dug, except for the area that was repaired. The inlet is full of water and moving slowly. The tile has very little water in it.
A land survey was completed to see if there was a back fall and there was not. The land is basically flat. He said they feel there are other problems as there is sitting water. Saxton showed another map of the area on a larger scale. The map shows that the tile line was installed prior to the existence of the trailer park. It is unclear whether the tile runs directly through the trailer park. Power lines and utility activity occurred within the trailer park. Water is flowing at the other end of the line, but they can’t check for problems without digging in the trailer park. Saxton said there is a steel pipe installed by the railroad possibly for a reroute of the tile. This was surveyed and the steel pipe will not work, as it is not deep enough to provide adequate drainage. Saxton said the repair made to the tile in early August was completed with a backhoe by Salonek. The repair did not affect the flow a great deal. Russek and Joe Jacobs, SWCD, witched the area last year and staked the line near the sewer. Saxton said the area has been witched a couple of times. He felt that what Russek and Jacobs might have found were pipes associated with the sewage treatment plant.
After considerable discussion, it was the consensus of the Board that it would be a good idea to obtain a sewer camera through the City of Montrose to investigate further. Sawatzke felt the City may be willing to assist as the trailer park is within the City limits. He said the trailer park should not have been allowed to be located on top of an agricultural drain pipe. A benefit of having the City assist is that there may be no cost involved. Any costs associated will be assessed back to the benefitted property owners. Duske and Salonek stated how the current situation is impacting their land. Duske would like the Ditch cleaned to the point where it flows into the natural creek. He said it has been over 35 years since it has been completely cleaned. Both Duske and Salonek questioned why some landowners on the Ditch are not being assessed. Sawatzke stated that the only method to remove a benefitted property owner on a ditch is through action of the County Board. This is not done often. Another possibility would be if a branch of the Ditch was abandoned. Russek stated that when large tracts of land are split the assessment remains with the original homestead unless, through the process of dividing the land, it is recorded that all pieces are assessed. Thelen suggested that Duske and Salonek work with Hiivala to address their questions regarding Ditch 38 benefitted property owners. Russek said as part of today’s Board Agenda, they will be rescheduling an Informational Meeting that will be held with Kurt Deter of Rinke Noonan. Deter is an expert in ditch matters and could provide information on redetermination of benefits. He encouraged Duske and Salonek to attend that meeting as it will be open to the public.
Hiivala asked that the date of the Informational Meeting scheduled with Rinke Noonan on ditch matters be rescheduled. It was originally scheduled for 2-22-12 which is Ash Wednesday. On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to reschedule the Meeting to 3-28-11 at 6:30 P.M. The meeting will be held in the Government Center Community Room and is open to the public.
The claims listing was reviewed. Mattson referred to a claim on Page 15, Wright County Jail Administration ($5,578) for Pay to Stay Fees. The listing reflects “Team Dec 2011 Ck Issued in Error.” Hiivala stated the claim appears to be reimbursement to the Jail account, as the Jail should not have paid the fees. The backup information reflects that the check should have been voided so there is the possibility that two checks were issued. Sawatzke clarified that Pay to Stay fees relate to the fees inmates pay to the County for part of their incarceration. Mattson moved to pay the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion includes directing Hiivala to bring the claim discussed back to the next meeting if additional or different information is found. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, requested approval of a condemnation resolution for the unsigned parcels of right of way on CSAH 3 (SAP 86-603-017) between South County Line and the South City Limits of Cokato. The resolution for condemnation allows the County Attorney’s Office to begin Eminent Domain proceedings using the 90-day quick-take procedure. This will allow timely access to properties during the 2012 construction season. There are 68 parcels involved. Mark Johnson, Wright County Right of Way Agent, said there are 6 parcels that remain unsigned. The parties live out of State and he expects that process to go well. He expects to finish this process in the next month. Every person they have met with has signed. Eichelberg asked for the miles involved with the project. Johnson responded that there are 6.5 miles in Wright County and 2 miles in McLeod County. Mattson asked if a new culvert will be put in County Ditch 15. Johnson said the existing culvert will be extended and an additional culvert will be added. The improvements go to the City limits. The project was extended to include the entire Township. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #12-18, Condemnation Resolution for unsigned parcels of right of way on CSAH 3. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 2-08-12. At today’s County Board Meeting, Mattson moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0. The minutes of the Building Committee Meeting follow:
I. Request To Install Three Door Access Card Readers. (Human Services Board Item)
II. Request For Off-Site Storage. (Human Services Board Item)
III. Request To Install Shelving, Loading Dock Area & Storage Room. (Human Services Board Item)
IV. Courthouse Security Personnel/Citizen Space.
Hagerty said the Sheriff’s Office (Office) has been operating at the Law Enforcement Center (LEC) for three years. Their goal is to increase efficiency and sensitivity to privacy concerns for citizens. For example, Hagerty said in the past they would start the transport van at the Government Center (GC), go to the LEC to pick up inmates, and drive them back to the GC. A judge said in 2011 that it was taking too long to get inmates to court. Most inmates come from off site. Now they start the van at the LEC when they need to transport inmates to court, which saves fifteen minutes.
Hagerty said another concern is the space needs of the Office in the GC. There is a lot of space in the old jail area, some of which the Office stills rents. Hagerty said they would like to trade some space. Currently Bailiffs use two offices upstairs in the Court Administration area. Frequently eight to twelve personnel operate in three separate offices in this location. Hagerty said the office across from the old jail entry space receives a lot of traffic for a small area. He said often three or more staff works in that space. The booking area in that room is a concern. Hagerty explained that booking involves getting fingerprints and photos. He said many people are booked in this small office. Hagerty explained that often people who come to court were never physically arrested. Perhaps a blood draw was taken on a DWI and the person went to the hospital due to an injury. Hagerty said when the person comes to court, the judge sends them to the old jail area of the GC to get booked. Hagerty said recently when three juveniles were arrested and brought to court, they were all accompanied by parents and family members and were being booked at the same time. Hagerty said this situation raises privacy and safety concerns. Officers ask private information such as medical histories, information covered under the Health Information Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA), they obtain information from juveniles, and so forth. Officers may also use the space to counsel an employee, Court Administration staff may come in with court orders, and employees may take breaks there. Hagerty said his solution to alleviate this congestion is to move the smaller Bailiffs Office by Court Administration to the old jail space on the first floor of the GC and release the office currently occupied on the second floor to Court Administration. Hoffman distributed a handout (see attached) with multiple photos of the locations being discussed.
O’Malley described the doorway to the Corrections & Courthouse Security Office and Processing area. He said this area receives a high volume of foot traffic from the public who see uniformed staff and stop to ask questions. The office does about a thousand booking prints per year. Other services commonly provided to members of the public include setting up jail dates, and getting information on family members. O’Malley said if more than two people arrive at the same time, the area becomes extremely congested. The person being booked sits out front, allowing everyone in the vicinity to hear their responses. O’Malley said this has become a huge privacy issue. In addition to bookings, officers provide services related to adoptions and foster care in this location, all of which involve an enormous amount of private data.
Hoffman said there are five desks in the main Bailiff Office in the Court Administration area. This area would continue to be used by Bailiffs. Room C259 is the original Bailiff Office. This is the space the Sheriff is proposing to vacate if the move into the old jail booking area is approved. This office would become available to Court Administration or for other purposes as decided by the Board.
O’Malley referenced photos beginning on the bottom of Page 4 through Page 6 of the handout showing the old jail booking area. He said currently the Office pays rent on this space. They infrequently use a few conference rooms in the back. The Office proposes moving the booking area from its current location to this lobby. O’Malley said there is ample space for members of the public to sit and wait to get booked or transact other business. Currently officers will direct the public to wait there now to avoid creating traffic jams in the hallway. O’Malley said fire exits should not be an issue in the old jail lobby. Restrooms are located near the old jail lobby, providing a place for people being fingerprinted to wash their hands first. Referring to the photo at the top of Page 5 showing the public seating area, O’Malley said they would like to move their operations into that area. He said it would require some modification to make it functional.
Ideally, the Office requests that the two panes of glass be replaced with a partition that could be opened to talk with the public, but closed as necessary for security and privacy. Photos indicating this area are at the bottom of Page 5. At present, the area is closed in. O’Malley said the radio console would have to be removed. Some of the counter space would stay.
Hoffman said Page 6 shows a block wall with two large windows that look into former office/conference rooms. O’Malley said the Office requests that the non-supporting block wall and two windows be removed. They will relocate staff, the fingerprint machine, and photo equipment into those two offices so staff would have clear lines of sight to see the public. This arrangement would allow staff to book people, provide fingerprints, etc. in an office that provides greater privacy. The office could be easily secured at the end of the business day. Another advantage, O’Malley said, is the Office is already using the third floor of the upstairs jail for holding inmates. Every day staff must escort attorneys, family members, Human Services personnel and juveniles to the elevator to meet with inmates on the third floor. This requires staff to let people in, take them to the elevator and walk back. At times members of the public are present when they leave the office. By moving to the old jail booking area, staff would not have to leave the office equipment and data unsecured to perform this function. Security would be improved.
O’Malley said they would need a few additional data jacks, and an electrical outlet would have to be stubbed off. Overall, the modifications would be relatively minor. The remaining photos show office space in that area. Norman asked whether the Office would give up the current space on the second floor or utilize the space by Court Administration plus the old jail booking area. Hoffman referred to the first picture showing Corrections & Court Security. He said Court Security would remain where it is with Sgt. Korbel and a couple of Bailiffs. The smaller of the Court Administration Bailiff offices would be transferred to the remodeled old jail booking area. The Office would retain the larger room in the Court Administration area by the judge’s chamber. Norman said it sounds like a feasible plan. O’Malley said it is a better utilization of space. He said since the Courts will not likely be moving to the LEC in the near future, the Office would prefer to use available space at the GC. O’Malley said they initially underestimated the amount of public traffic they would receive. He said expanding into the old jail lobby area will give the Office plenty of space for the next few years. Mattson said he will recommend approval of this request if the Office provides estimates of the cost to modify the space. Hoffman said they were asking for approval to work with Administration and obtain quotes for the remodeling. Norman said if the Committee approves the concept, Hayes can work with the Office staff on compiling cost figures. Norman suggested the project be paid for from Budget 100, Site Improvement line item. He did not think they would have to come back to the Building Committee, but would present the results of the quotes to the County Board to make sure the lowest quote meets County specifications. Mattson and Eichelberg agreed and said the reutilization of space will improve function of the office in that area.
Recommendation: Authorize Procurement Of Quotes For Remodeling The Old Jail Booking Lobby Area To Accommodate Staff And Booking Functions, Court Administration Bailiff Office And Lobby Area For Citizens. Purchasing and The Sheriff’s Office Will Provide Quote Results To The County Board For Decision.
V. Building Security, Doors/Cameras.
This issue is related to building access. Hagerty said he worked with Norman a few years ago regarding creating different key card access groups. Some events since that time have caused him concern, prompting him to revisit the situation. Hagerty mentioned four gunfire incidences in the last ten years at other county courthouses: Hennepin, Morrison, Sherburne, and, most recently, Cook County. He does not want Wright County to be the fifth incident reported in the newspaper.
Hagerty said he has noticed an increase in people displaying signs of mental illness. He said last night a person wouldn’t stop for officers on Highway 12 and was pursued. When apprehended, the man said he thought there was someone in the back of his pickup truck with a gun who threatened to shoot him if he stopped. The man is now in the Wright County Jail. Hagerty said this type of incident is not unusual anymore. The State has closed many 72-hour holding facilities for the mentally ill. Consequently, people with mental illness either reside in someone’s home or in jail. He mentioned several other incidences that have sparked discussion in the Office regarding potentially dangerous scenarios that could arise at the GC.
Hagerty said when the Office was placed in charge of the metal detectors, the County agreed with the Buffalo Police Department that they would respond to 911 calls at the GC. Hagerty cited an example of a possible emergency his Office could respond to that would not necessitate calling the Buffalo Police Department. A client in Court Services failed a urine test recently. Court Services called the Office. In this case, the Bailiff arrested the person and booked him. Hagerty said they would not call the Buffalo Police Department in this instance. He said perhaps they would in the case of a theft. Hagerty said the Office staff feels they provide building security at the GC. Due to recent events, Hagerty said they are requesting that licensed Deputies receive access to various doors in and outside the GC. He said if a suspect ran into a Department office (not individual offices), Deputies may or may not be able to get in. He said Court Security Bailiffs have more access inside the GC than he does. He cited different work hours of various Departments. Hagerty said his concern is a situation may arise when they need access and don’t have it. He welcomed a monthly audit of access utilized to ensure there are no abuses. Hagerty said he has spoken with most of the Department Heads about the issue. He stressed that his Office is sensitive to issues such as the ones raised by the Information Technology Department. However, Hagerty said in a hostage or 911 situation, it would be important to get in without delay.
Hagerty said the other request is for camera access. They are unaware of how many cameras are posted throughout the GC. He said the Office would like to be able to operate and access GC cameras remotely for both court evidence and in the event of an emergency. Hagerty said if something happens in court and the person runs out, they would be able to get a clothing description and determine which door the person used to exit the building. This is done at St. Michael-Albertville schools to be able to monitor from a remote location.
Mattson asked Hagerty to clarify that they want access to interior and exterior GC doors not to use equipment, but to investigate if a situation arises. Hagerty said a few years ago there was a two week trial going on. Some witnesses were in the County Attorney’s office after 4:30 P.M. The Office was involved in the case. They did not have access to the County Attorney’s main office. That situation was not an emergency. However, Hagerty said if there were a medical or crisis situation, they would have to call a custodian or force their way in. He does not envision any of his Deputies going into offices. He equated it to having a key to a neighbor’s home in case of emergency. Hagerty suggested restricting access to certain deputies so at least some could get into the GC without delay.
Hagerty said Laurent is now able to access camera video as a backup in addition to Korbel.
Mattson asked whether Hagerty had talked with the Leadership Team and the Department Heads about this issue. Hagerty said he spoke at the Criminal Justice meeting. He said they have general security concerns. Hagerty said he hasn’t met with them as a whole but individually. He has spoken to most of the Department Heads about it. Hagerty said he has not talked with Extension or Veteran Services. He said he has received no pushback on the issue. Norman stated this was not discussed with the Administration Department, either. Mattson said the Leadership Team could discuss the issue. Hagerty said they just had a meeting. Most of those present thought the Office already had access to the GC.
Norman said at one time the Office had full access prior to the move to the LEC. There were discussions with Department Heads regarding access. In 2009, with Sheriff Miller and perhaps Hagerty, it was determined the Deputies would have full access to exterior doors so they could get in 24/7. It was agreed the Bailiffs would have more extended access. With the move to LEC and the new 911 setup, the Buffalo Police Department is the delegated first responder to the GC. The Buffalo Fire Department has four master keys to the GC. Norman said the Office agreed with Administration at that time to decrease access. He said the incidences Hagerty mentioned all happened during normal business hours. Hagerty acknowledged that the Buffalo Police Department may be the first responder in an emergency, although he said his Office would probably get to the GC first, except in the middle of the night.
Eichelberg said this could be a touchy issue. He would like all the Commissioners to read the minutes of today’s meeting before they make a decision at a County Board meeting. Norman agreed. He said he talked with Hagerty a couple of weeks ago about potential security issues. Norman said Hagerty remembers when the GC closed off corridors at night with gates. Perhaps the County should consider analyzing the feasibility of using that method again.
Hoffman said the only area a citizen cannot carry a weapon at the GC is in the Judicial Corridor. The Office cannot prevent a person with a gun permit from carrying a weapon when they do business at the GC if the person gives prior notification to the Office of the date and time. The Office can only prevent them from going to the Judicial Corridor on the second floor.
Norman said he would like to explore options, but the County also has to meet fire code specifications. It is important to ensure someone could get out of the building in case of fire. Hoffman said one option could be similar to the LEC, which has an after hours office barrier of glass doors to allow people to go down into the Jail area, but not to the Sheriff’s area upstairs. On the secured side of the barrier, if an employee wants to leave the area, there are motion sensors or a button to let them out. The County could explore this scenario if desired.
Hoffman asked for a decision regarding full access to GC security cameras. He said it would be very beneficial to the Bailiffs. Kelly said some DVRs went down recently and the new ones weren’t programmed to give the Office access. He saw no reason why they couldn’t be given access as the omission was unintentional. Hoffman said he didn’t think there was a cost for setting up remote access. If there is an incident, the Office is always looking for access to a video camera, whether it is at a school or other location. With the current system, if something happened at the GC, the Office might have to go through the area where the incident is occurring to gain access to the camera. Hoffman said that is why an off site location is a better option.
Norman said he would also like, in consultation with the Office, to look at the current placement of cameras in the GC and evaluate whether additional cameras should be installed in blind spots. Hoffman said cameras are vastly improved compared to a few years ago. He said PanZoomTilt cameras have excellent clarity and are more reasonably priced. Swing said the cameras could be tied into the new Doors system. If a door is entered after hours, the camera can capture that frame. Fire alarms could be tied to doors and lock them down in case of fire. Swing said there are ways to utilize our Doors technology that could improve security for the entire campus. Norman said that would be money well spent to upgrade and add to the security system.
Hoffman asked again about adding Office access to cameras at the GC and the Highway Office. Mattson said cameras can work like security lights and motion detectors if someone walks by, the camera will follow that person. Swing said that was correct. Norman suggested they work together and draft a proposal regarding an inventory of the current system, areas of need and possible options for upgrading technology. Hagerty agreed and said he would also like to include O’Malley and Korbel and Hoffman in the discussion.
Recommendation: Authorize Administration and Sheriff’s Office To Conduct An Audit Of The Current Security Camera System And Draft A Proposal Regarding Areas Of Need And Options For Upgrading T
VI. Security Scanners.
Hagerty discussed security at the front and rear public entrances to the GC. The Office has compiled data regarding the number of people who use the entrances and categorized them as employees, customers, or handicapped individuals. Hagerty said they have been operating door security for some time utilizing archaic methods, with temporary desks and searching belongings by hand. He said the Office strives to refrain from being too invasive and rarely receives a complaint. However, one person emailed two weeks ago that the metal detector beeped when they walked through, but the Bailiff did not ask them to remove their shoes or additional clothing. Hagerty said it’s a balance of common sense and being aware of security practices. One thing Bailiffs do is frequently search satchels, bags and backpacks. The Office is proposing a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Scanner similar to ones used at airports. Hoffman did research on them and mentioned them to Norman. It would still require two people at the front door, similar to the current operation. Hagerty proposes closing the back door as a public entrance and use it as an employee entrance with a key card. This option would eliminate one employee.
Hoffman said currently 900 people walk through the front door of the GC per day. It is handicapped accessible, and all the bags, satchels and backpacks are being hand searched. There is a ramp for disabled people. The rear door of the GC is used by 180 people per day, most of whom are County employees. Since this entrance is also handicapped accessible, there are several handicapped parking spots on the deck near the entrance. Hoffman said if two handicapped spots were placed near the front entrance, the GC would still offer the same number of handicapped spaces. He said most members of the public are not aware of the two handicapped spots by the rear entrance.
Hoffman said they researched surrounding counties. He spoke with Sherburne, Anoka and Washington counties. They all use RapiScan scanners. Hoffman said GraphaScan is another option. Carver County sent an email inquiring about the same system, as they have similar concerns as Wright County. The range of cost is roughly low to mid $20,000s, depending on the model, software, training and maintenance the County would consider. Hoffman said this would allow Court Security to scan less intrusively for dangerous items. It eliminates the need to go through purses, for instance.
Norman said he spoke with Hagerty a few weeks ago about closing the rear door to the public. He said he agrees with the request for a scanner at the front entrance. He has seen people coming through, such as a little old lady with a purse, whose privacy is invaded as the contents of her purse are displayed in front of other people. Norman said a scanner would be a more efficient and effective way to process the public through security. However, Norman said he is opposed to closing the back door to the public because of the 180 people who use it, including persons with disabilities. The parking deck offers handicapped accessibility. Additionally, the door will be used more frequently this summer when 2nd St. is closed for construction. Norman recommended the back door remain open to the public at least through the summer months. He suggested a possibility is one scanner at the front entrance and another at the rear in the future, if needed.
Hagerty said they are flexible about the additional public use at the rear door during construction. He said 75% of the people using the rear door are employees. The GC is not so huge that it prevents people from walking around to the other entrance. Hagerty said he wasn’t sure he agreed with the need for two scanners. He said even if the rear door remains as it is, he still envisions only one scanner in front. Hagerty said he is not convinced the Office is practicing the most thorough security measures possible. A new scanner would help. Norman said one scanner is sufficient. Mattson said he would like to see the rear entrance remain open to the public. He does not want to disrupt the pattern of access for those who use that door. He agrees that a scanner at the front entrance is optimal and asked about funding. Norman said he recommends the scanner be purchased out of Budget 100, Site Improvement Line Item.
Recommendation: Authorize Purchase Of Scanner For Front Entrance To The Government Center Out Of Budget 100, Site Improvement Line Item. (End of 2-08-12 Building Committee Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 2-08-12. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke. Sawatzke referenced Item 1D, Lieutenant, that reflects, “Norman stated that he was previously instructed by Commissioner Sawatzke to post the lieutenant position, based upon a conversation Sawatzke had with Sheriff Hagerty.” Sawatzke said he did speak with Norman about creating an eligibility list for that position. He thought that was what they had agreed to at a meeting about 1.5 years ago with the Sheriff. Sawatzke wanted to make it clear that his discussion with Norman was about that decision from 1.5 years ago. He said Norman was concerned on whether it was appropriate to have the eligibility lists. That is how that topic came to be on the Personnel Committee Agenda. He said there may have been some lack of clarity on what was decided at the Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting in approximately 2010.
Thelen said this issue comes up again relative to hiring for positions which are already in the budget. They are existing positions that are sent to the Personnel Committee for permission to rehire. Thelen wants further discussion on the process to evaluate whether it is efficient and still necessary. Thelen said she would like to place this item on an upcoming Agenda, possibly next week or the following week. She understands this process is being followed because of budget concerns but wonders whether it is efficient. Thelen said Hagerty also feels the process is inefficient. A lot of work is expended by department heads, Administration, and the secretary who takes meeting minutes. She felt that out of the approximate 100 positions reviewed by the Committee, only 2 had not been approved. Norman said the issue could be placed on the next County Board Agenda if the Board wants to discuss it at that time.
Sawatzke said the Personnel Committee’s recommendation is to allow the Sheriff’s Office to create eligibility lists for the positions of lieutenant and sergeant. The second issue brought up by the Sheriff at that meeting was whether the position replacements for the Sheriff’s Office need to be presented to the Personnel Committee. The Committee’s recommendation is that they do. Sawatzke referenced Pages 6 & 7 of the 2-08-12 Personnel Committee Minutes which reflect:
“Eichelberg referenced the comments made by Hagerty on trust. He said all departments should be treated the same. Otherwise, there can be problems with employees from various departments discussing this and grievances can result. He feels that all employees should have the same advantage in the process.
Sawatzke did not feel it was fair to say the Board does not trust department heads. The County Board is directly responsible to the taxpayers on the budget. He understands that Sheriff Hagerty is responsible for the Sheriff budget and to the citizens differently than the 15 other department heads, as the Sheriff has to stand before them every four years during elections. However if taxpayers are supportive or upset about the budget, he did not feel the Sheriff would be the person they would contact. Sawatzke stated the County Board is responsible for the budget so they need to have a say in the hiring process. With the state of the economy, a budget passed in July of one year may not carry through to December of the next year. It is not that the County Board does not trust department heads. Several years ago, department heads requested positions through the Budget process. The Board decided not to fill 12 positions even though the Board understood the argument for the positions. The County could have 12 more employees at a cost of $600,000-$700,000. Since the County Board made the decision not to hire for those positions, that money was used to reduce the budget. Had the positions been filled, the levy increase would have been more like 3% instead of a 1.6% increase. Sawatzke said department heads are not hired to approve the budget and make those decisions.”
Sawatzke said the number of position openings created through this process may actually be closer to 20. He said it is more than 2 as Thelen referenced. Some of those position replacement requests were addressed early on when the Board was seeking budget cuts. He could recall 2 positions coming up in the last 8-9 months alone. Thelen questioned whether the positions that were set aside came about as part of the budget process versus through the Personnel Committee. Sawatzke said that about 12 positions were selected from the first Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting. Since that time, approximately 8 positions have not been filled through the Personnel Committee process.
Thelen was unsure how to move this forward, but said she can’t act on this recommendation to continue to review positions that are already approved as part of the budget process. Thelen said the Committee’s recommendation is to establish an eligibility list but she would like the entire process reviewed. When she became a Commissioner in 2009, referring all position replacements to the Personnel Committee was a new process. She understands the Board is charged with meeting the needs of taxpayers and with keeping the budget down. Thelen felt there were other ways to achieve that. She said it is always important when a new process is implemented to look at how effective it is and whether the objective can be met in other ways. There are many processes and protocols being tried by other counties to “lean up,” and this one seems like it creates antagonism between Administration and department heads and between the Board and department heads. Thelen viewed the process as busy work. She knows the Board’s process feels important and that they are trying to meet the complaints of the citizens to keep the budget down. The Board needs to evaluate whether it is effective. Thelen has discussed this topic with department heads, Administration, and commissioners from other counties. She didn’t feel it should be continued just because the County Board has done this for two years and because it meets a “window dressing” definition of whether the County is meeting the mandate to lean up on the budget. The minutes and recommendations of the Committee could be approved with an effort to review the process. The review would include the cost (how many people are involved with bringing a request forth, the cost of Board members attendance, and minute taking, etc.). She said there is a lot of time spent that could be directed toward other efforts. She favored a budgetary matrix like is done in other counties, and she felt they should look at doing Operation Lean. Thelen was unsure whether she needed approval of the Board to place this on the Agenda for further discussion.
Russek did not feel there was a point in bringing this topic back to the Board as there is no support from the other Board members to do so. He viewed it as a one-person discussion. Thelen asked whether Russek had his mind made up without looking at the evidence. Sawatzke said if Thelen has other ways to save money, he would be more than happy to hear them. However, he said because there are other ways to save money does not mean the Board should throw out this process. The process involves sending position replacements to the Personnel Committee for discussion with the department head as to why they feel it is essential that the position is replaced. The Committee decides whether positions are needed. Most have been filled. He referenced the Personnel Committee Minutes and two positions that are recommended for approval in the Information Technology Department. The Board realizes that staff needs technical assets for efficiencies. Other positions recommended for approval include those that have revenues that equal or exceed their salaries. There have also been positions that have not been replaced through the Personnel Committee process that have resulted in hundreds of thousands in savings. He referenced Thelen’s comment on money spent to send staff to meetings. He did not feel requesting a department to come to a meeting for 10-15 minutes was more expensive than the savings realized. The process being followed saves the County money and some may not like it. Sawatzke said the former Sheriff had no problem with the process and followed it. Sheriff Hagerty may have a different opinion, but Sawatzke said he disagreed with it.
Thelen asked if Sawatzke was suggesting an ongoing, permanent policy even though the positions are in the budget. Sawatzke responded that as long as there are tough, difficult times and challenges for government, his opinion is to have a policy in place to look at things with more scrutiny than in the past. The process the County Board followed six years ago was to fill positions when openings occurred.
Thelen said larger departments are unfairly disadvantaged as they have to go through the process, and it may be more critical in those departments if there is a vacancy. Thelen suggested looking across the organization for efficiencies. There may be departments where workload has been reduced because of the economic times. Those same departments may not have any position openings that have occurred so they have more than enough staff members. She said the departments of Sheriff, Human Services, and Highway need their positions and have come in repeatedly to request the same positions for rehire. Thelen viewed it as inefficient for these departments to go through the process of asking for positions that may have been open three months previously. Thelen referenced Sawatzke’s comment about saving thousands of dollars and she said she disputed that entirely. That is a theory and she had her own. She suggested coming up with alternatives that meet the goals of a trim budget in these tough economic times. Thelen asked that the other Commissioners think about the process. Thelen would like to take a look at positions, the time it takes for department heads, and an alternative to having these types of discussions by the Board on the process. Thelen asked Norman to place this on the next Board Agenda.
Sawatzke said the Board will be voting on the process of sending position replacements to Committee today with approval of the Personnel Committee Minutes. That is a recommendation within the Committee Minutes. He referenced Thelen’s comments that she doesn’t know if the process is saving the County hundreds of thousands of dollars. He asked her how the County is not saving when there are approximately 20 positions vacant and the salaries and benefits add up to that amount. Thelen responded that 18 of those positions were already put aside through the budget process. Department heads agreed they would do without the positions. She said it was the department heads who were acting honorably to assist with meeting the goals of the budget.
Sawatzke provided examples of positions not approved through the Personnel Committee. He said a Human Services Supervisor position was not filled after the department head came to the meeting and requested the position be filled. There is one less Secretary in the Administration Office. Norman came to that Personnel Committee Meeting and requested replacement of the position and it was recommended not to fill it. Another position was vacant in Planning & Zoning. The Zoning Administrator requested the position but it was not filled. In Court Services, the department head requested two positions and one was not filled (Case Aide). Those are examples of four positions in the last few months. Just with those positions, Sawatzke said the County saved a couple hundred thousand dollars. Thelen said she would like to look at those particular positions, to see whether this occurred as suggested. Sawatzke said Thelen was present because the Board took action at their meetings on these positions. Thelen said she was aware of the Human Services Supervisor and Administration Secretary positions, but she was not sure of the other two. She suggested the Board could review department head or higher ranking administrative positions. Whether to look at every position in every department every time there is an opening is what Thelen would like to look at. The motion to approve the minutes and recommendations carried 4-1 with Thelen casting the nay vote. The 2-08-12 Personnel Committee Minutes follow:
I. Position Openings:
A. IT Technician.
Nelson requested permission to advertise for the position. The vacancy occurred because of an internal lateral move of Chad Davis to programming. The position was recently advertised for and filled because of another vacancy. Nelson said there is an individual who finished second in the interview process for that position who would be a strong candidate for this position. The position will also be posted internally for 7 days per union contract.
Norman stated that the IT Director made some suggested title changes for positions in the IT Department. Norman does not feel these have been communicated to the Union. At minimum, a letter should be directed to the Union to see if they concur with the title changes. The salary schedule and union contracts reflect the original job titles.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement. Post internally and utilize the candidate pool from the recent interview process.
B. IT Project Leader.
Nelson stated the position is open due to an internal lateral move of LaVonne Lehmberg to Network Analyst on 1-18-12. This is the position previously held by Brian Malinski who left employment on 11-30-11. Nelson requested that the position be advertised both internally and externally to allow for a larger pool of candidates. Norman stated that this position is listed in the union contract as Project Leader so the job title is correct.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement. The position will be advertised both internally and externally.
C. Social Worker.
Thimell requested permission to fill the Social Worker position in the Adult Services Unit. She distributed a handout reflecting justification for the request (see attached). The position has been vacant since mid January. The position handles a large waiver case load. State and federal reimbursement is received for about 60-65% of the Social Worker’s time.
Thimell said the position works with vulnerable adults and elderly clients. People want to remain in the community versus being transferred to nursing homes. They look to the Social Worker as their lifeline and independence. The position requires a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work or a related field. Last summer, the position was advertised because of an opening. They received 45-50 applications but many of them did not have experience with the elderly population.
Thimell distributed handouts reflecting waiver revenues and waiver case growth for the period of 2008-2011 (attached). Sawatzke said it appears from the handouts that the waiver case growth and revenues mirror one another. However, the statistics reflect that revenues are going up substantially faster than case growth. He asked whether the County is getting paid more per case. Thimell said there are two methods of reimbursement. One reimburses per member, per month. Another is reimbursed at a 15-minute rate. For those under age 65, reimbursement is entirely at the 15-minute rate. For those over age 65, because of two health plans, both types of reimbursement are used.
Thimell said the number of caseloads has increased but the number of Social Workers has not. The number of waiver case loads makes up almost all of the adult case load area. Thimell said although she is asking to fill one position, the Adult Services Unit could use two positions. There is a vacant case load in addition to this case load. There is work that is not being completed and clients are not getting the services they need.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement.
Norman stated that he was previously instructed by Commissioner Sawatzke to post the lieutenant position, based upon a conversation Sawatzke had with Sheriff Hagerty. The position was posted internally. Norman stated that the Personnel Representatives have not yet received the resignation letter. Hagerty provided a copy to Norman. Today’s meeting was to address the process.
Hagerty explained that the employee that is leaving employment is on a two-week vacation. Upon his return, he will train the person being promoted to his position. There will not be two Lieutenants serving in the position at the same time. The applicants will be interviewed in the near future. Hagerty provided further explanation of the lieutenant position. There are 78 deputies and 9 sergeants who report to 2 lieutenants. The areas supervised by the lieutenants are split between the northern and southern portions of the County, with three districts each. The lieutenants meet monthly with deputies and sergeants to review progress reports.
Norman said that following the normal process (bring the position opening to the Personnel Committee, getting County Board approval, posting and creating an interview list) would have met the anticipated resignation date of 3-30-12 for the lieutenant who is leaving. The position would have been posted for five days and the applicants would have been interviewed. This is the normal process followed on most promotional opportunities. It is about a two-week process from the time of approval versus the 1.5 month process for entry level positions. Hagerty said a sergeant will be promoted to the lieutenant position. The vacated sergeant position will be filled by a deputy, and the deputy position will need to be backfilled. No additional personnel will be added.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement of Lieutenant position.
E. Deputy Sheriff.
Norman placed this item on the Agenda as he was informed by Personnel staff that a deputy sheriff will be starting on 3-03-12. Miller explained that the Sheriff’s Office received approval to hire three deputies in March, 2011. This position is the last of those three to be filled. The promotions associated with the lieutenant position just discussed will result in another deputy sheriff vacancy. There is also one other deputy position opening that recently occurred.
Sawatzke said the sergeant position opening that will occur from the promotion to lieutenant should be placed on the first Personnel Committee Meeting in March. He asked whether there is a sergeant eligibility list. Miller stated the sergeant eligibility list they are using will expire in March.
Miller said the Sheriff’s Office is authorized for 140 deputies but they have agreed not to hire over 138 at this time. There are currently 137 deputies. With the requested hire, the number of deputies will increase to 138. However, with the backfill of the lieutenant position the count will return to 137. He felt it was redundant to continue to ask for the same position every time it becomes vacant. It is not uncommon for a position to be open for a year. Miller said they are working off a deputy sheriff eligibility list that is 2.5 years old. Because of the cost of testing ($3,000), they agreed with Personnel to not test every year.
Sawatzke asked who makes the job offer to a candidate. Sheriff Hagerty stated the Sheriff’s Office makes the job offer. The employee meets with Personnel on their first day of employment. Norman said he thought it was previously agreed that the Administration Office would generate the letter for offer of employment. Norman referenced the current deputy sheriff opening and read a portion of an email received from Judy Brown, Personnel Representative, which reflects that “By the time we hear about it, the applicant has received a conditional offer of employment. I haven’t told them that they can or can’t fill the position, but we did schedule a pre-employment physical. It’s a little late to put it on the list for positions to fill once the person has a tentative start date.” Norman interpreted this to mean Personnel was not aware of the job offer for the deputy position.
Miller said the process to hire a deputy sheriff involves background checks, a conditional offer, a meeting between the Sheriff and the candidate, a psychological exam and a physical exam. Personnel assists with scheduling the physical exam. If the candidate passes all of the steps, then Personnel is notified.
Sawatzke asked if former Sheriff Gary Miller was serving when the agreement was reached on having Personnel send out the offer letter. Norman felt that was the case. Sawatzke said Sheriff Miller wanted to offer the job to the candidate. He suggested that the offer letter could be generated by Personnel and presented by the Sheriff to the candidate at the time the offer is made. Hagerty stated that it would not be the appropriate time to make an offer as the candidate has not completed the psychological and physical exams.
Hagerty said where he finds the process gets delayed is when the Sheriff’s Office wants to ask employees if they are interested in promotional opportunities. If the Sheriff’s Office contacts Personnel, they are told the request has to come to Committee. Hagerty viewed this as inefficient and redundant. Miller said the process used to involve asking for additional personnel during the budget process. With that process, the Sheriff’s Office was able to commence with the background checks, etc. so the person was ready to start on the date the position was authorized to start. With the current process, an employee has to leave before they can move forward. Norman said the process changed in January, 2009, when the County Board decided all positions should come to the Personnel Committee for budgetary purposes. Sheriff Hagerty questioned how long the County Board envisions following these steps. Hagerty stated the Sheriff has some autonomy in that they differ from a department head. He is unsure what the County Board has accomplished from the process of having positions referred to Committee prior to replacement. Sawatzke stated that as far as he is concerned, this process will be followed for as long as residents attend the Truth In Local Taxation Meetings complaining about the County’s budget. He thought that this will not change until the economy turns around.
Recommendation: There is no approval required as the Deputy position was approved in March, 2011.
F. Financial Worker (Long Term Care).
Maloney said the position was filled about four months ago. The employee has given notice and will be leaving on 2-17-12. Information was distributed supporting the request to replace the position (see attached).
The position works with the long-term care health care programs including MA, Waivers, Asset Assessments, and various Cash and Food Support Programs. Maloney said Financial Workers carry caseloads of about 400 each. Schwartz said there are 1200 long-term care clients but not many waiver cases.
Recommendation: Authorize replacement.
II. Personnel Policy 102, Recruitment And Selection, RE: Creation Of Eligibility Lists.
Norman stated there can be wide interpretation regarding eligibility lists. There is an eligibility list for those positions that require a lengthy process for hiring, and there is an eligibility list for others that just require an interview. He wanted to draw a distinction between the two processes.
Norman referenced the hire request discussed today with the IT Department. That process included advertising, screening, and the interview process. Norman viewed those that were called in for an interview as the eligibility list, or maybe better defined as the interview list (those eligible for interview). For many years, the County has maintained eligibility lists for the positions of deputy sheriff, corrections, and dispatch as those positions require a longer process (testing, background checks, etc.). That type of eligibility list is held for a year. That process was put into place as the previous procedure was inefficient.
Norman referenced the lieutenant position, where an eligibility list will be kept for a year. He did not see the need to have this type of eligibility list for the lieutenant position. An eligibility list is needed for positions such as deputy sheriff, due to the cost of testing and the number of applicants. Norman suggested that at a future date, the Committee review language changes to the Personnel Policy to clarify the definition of eligibility lists. The current language might leave an opening for interpretation on the definition of an eligibility list versus an interview list.
Miller said when they establish a sergeant eligibility list, they may have 20 deputies who express interest. The type of sergeant position the applicants are interested in may differ (i.e., patrol, communications, etc.). Four sergeants may be named in a year. The eligibility list process would allow the Sheriff to post and determine who is interested in a sergeant position. If a position becomes vacant, then the hire would be presented to the Personnel Committee. Sheriff Hagerty said the process the Sheriff’s Office has used for eligibility lists has worked for them. Miller said this was not an issue before. He felt this situation came out of the controversy that occurred last year relative to the Sheriff’s Office. Sawatzke asked if there has always been eligibility lists for lieutenants. Miller responded that has been the process for the last 2-3 years. Sawatzke asked if there is a captain eligibility list. Miller said in theory, there could be. Sheriff Hagerty said there are currently eligibility lists for deputy sheriff, sergeant, lieutenant, and correction officers. Sawatzke asked if there are eligibility lists for office staff in the Sheriff’s Office. Norman responded there are not. Hagerty said when there is an opening in office staff positions, applications are accepted from external candidates.
In 1984, Norman said he implemented the eligibility list process for positions which are costly and take time to fill. Hagerty said that is not in dispute. The Personnel Policy reflects a one-year eligibility list on positions. For the last deputy sheriff process, Hagerty said Brown asked if the list could be extended past one year and he agreed. Norman stated he was not aware that this occurred. Sawatzke asked if someone is appointed every year to sergeant. Sheriff Hagerty said there are years when there are more openings. A sergeant eligibility list will probably follow the year time line but could be extended depending on the circumstances. To simplify the process, Miller asked if Personnel can assist the Sheriff’s Office in establishing an eligibility list for sergeant and lieutenant. Miller said they would notify the Board before they make personnel changes. Sawatzke asked for clarification on whether they would “notify” or “ask” the County Board. Sheriff Hagerty commented about the Sheriff having to come to the Personnel Committee to fill positions. Sawatzke stated that filling positions is a formal process via the County Board, who is the employer. Sawatzke said Sheriff Hagerty is the supervisor. Those are two separate things. He said the County Board does not tell the Sheriff how to, for example, police the County.
As far as the process, Sawatzke said he understands Norman’s comments. Sawatzke did not see a problem with using eligibility lists as requested, as it does not appear to create more work in the end. After someone is hired, the list has been created for use at a later time. He viewed that differently than position replacements not coming to the County Board. Norman said there should be a clear distinction between an eligibility list and an interview list. He cited the process used to hire deputy sheriffs and correction officers. Norman referenced the sergeant eligibility list. He asked if a deputy not on the eligibility list wants to apply for a position opening in the future, would they be able to apply. Miller said not without approval by the Sheriff. Miller said any deputy sheriff entertaining the idea of becoming a sergeant will submit a letter to be included on the list. They understand that if they do not submit their letter by the specified time, they will not be eligible for sergeant openings until the following year. Norman asked whether this provides equal opportunity for position openings. Sheriff Hagerty said this has never been an issue.
Norman said the Policy does not reflect which jobs have eligibility lists, and he suggested language be added to the Policy for clarification. The process should be equal for all departments and the Sheriff’s Office should not be singled out. Sawatzke asked Norman whether there are any positions in the County that are similar to sergeant or lieutenant in the Sheriff’s Office in that the candidate selected is almost certain to be from within the organization. With the sergeant position, only a deputy sheriff from Wright County can apply. Norman provided the example of managers in Social Services. Sawatzke said this could be done but questioned whether this has been done. Norman said he did not have that data with him. Sawatzke felt a difference exists because the Sheriff’s Office does not look outside the organization.
Sheriff Hagerty brought forth discussion on bringing position replacements, which are part of the Sheriff’s budget, to the Personnel Committee. He understands that the County is the employer. He asked at what point the Commissioners will trust department heads or other elected officials. Hagerty said Sawatzke has acknowledged publicly that department heads have done a good job of keeping their budgets down. Hagerty referenced the public comments at Truth In Local Taxation Hearings. He said those comments will always occur. As Chair of the Leadership Committee, Hagerty suggested a future discussion with the Board on the topic of trust and the possible sunset of the process the Board has established on bringing position replacements to the Personnel Committee.
Eichelberg referenced the comments made by Hagerty on trust. He said all departments should be treated the same. Otherwise, there can be problems with employees from various departments discussing this and grievances can result. He feels that all employees should have the same advantage in the process.
Sawatzke did not feel it was fair to say the Board does not trust department heads. The County Board is directly responsible to the taxpayers on the budget. He understands that Sheriff Hagerty is responsible for the Sheriff budget and to the citizens differently than the 15 other department heads, as the Sheriff has to stand before them every four years during elections. However if taxpayers are supportive or upset about the budget, he did not feel the Sheriff would be the person they would contact. Sawatzke stated the County Board is responsible for the budget so they need to have a say in the hiring process. With the state of the economy, a budget passed in July of one year may not carry through to December of the next year. It is not that the County Board does not trust department heads. Several years ago, department heads requested positions through the Budget process. The Board decided not to fill 12 positions even though the Board understood the argument for the positions. The County could have 12 more employees at a cost of $600,000-$700,000. Since the County Board made the decision not to hire for those positions, that money was used to reduce the budget. Had the positions been filled, the levy increase would have been more like 3% instead of a 1.6% increase. Sawatzke said department heads are not hired to approve the budget and make those decisions.
Sheriff Hagerty said he wants to be part of the team. He recently attended the AMC Leadership Academy training, and the topic of discussion related to the different set of rules which apply to the county attorney and sheriff. Sheriff Hagerty said he is not looking to push back on County process as it takes so much time and they are so busy. However, there always seems to be friction. The Board has been cooperative in setting the budget. In turn, the Sheriff’s Office has managed the budget well and turned back dollars when they could. That is the relationship he would like to see continued. Hagerty said the process for position replacements seems to be redundant and inefficient. Sawatzke said the irony is that three times as much time has been spent talking about whether the Sheriff’s Office should come to Committee with their requests versus the time it would have taken to just discuss the open positions.
Norman asked for the Committee’s position on whether a Policy change is needed. Sawatzke didn’t feel the Policy needed to be changed as the discussion relates to eligibility lists. Norman said the Policy reflects eligibility lists for all positions in the County.
Recommendation: It is the recommendation of the Committee that the Sheriff’s Office can move forward with establishing eligibility lists for the positions of lieutenant and sergeant. Replacement of all positions must be presented to the Personnel Committee for review and recommendation to the County Board.
(End of 2-08-12 Personnel Committee Minutes)
Discussion continued on the process of referring position openings to the Personnel Committee. Thelen said that topic will be on the next County Board Agenda. Sawatzke said the Board just voted on that issue. Unless any of the other Commissioners are asking to have it on the Agenda, it will not be. Russek said the Board discussed this at length, and he did not see any reason to put it on the Agenda to discuss it again. Thelen asked Norman for some guidance on what can be placed on the Agenda and whether the approval of the minutes negates her request. Norman asked for an opinion from Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney. Sawatzke said the Board has a policy that follows Roberts Rules. Thelen said the Committee recommendation was to establish eligibility lists. She is requesting to review the whole process whereby the Personnel Committee reviews every position that comes in front of it. Sawatzke read a portion of the Personnel Committee recommendation relating to this issue, “Replacement of all positions must be presented to the Personnel Committee for review and recommendation to the County Board.” Asleson said his opinion is less legal and more pragmatic. Over the years, department heads and individual commissioners have placed items on the agenda many times. He felt it was an unwritten policy of the Board. He did not feel it would take a majority vote to place items on the Agenda. That being said, he felt the argument was more over whether the Agenda item is the same topic. He understands Thelen would like more of an expansive review of the Operation Lean project. If that is the case, he did not see a problem with placing that on the Agenda. Asleson said he would leave that up to Norman as the Administration Office puts out the Agenda.
Albertville Body Shop Inc $550.50
Allina Hospitals & Clinics Sp 476.50
Allina Medical Transportation 1,000.00
Ameripride Services 161.27
AMI Imaging Systems Inc 2,600.00
Aramark Services Inc 13,522.25
Asplin Travel Plaza/Kirk 115.90
Boyer Truck Parts 264.63
Brock White Co LLC 20,418.39
Buffalo Floral & Landscaping 320.00
Buffalo/City Of 65,058.60
Center Point Energy 726.50
Chamberlain Oil Co 3,902.46
Civic Research Institute Inc 179.95
Climate Air 13,163.66
CMI Inc 270.59
Community Lawn Care 684.00
Corporate Payment Systems 651.80
Cottens Inc 2,917.09
Craguns Lodging and Conf 876.00
Dingmann Marine & More LLC 996.05
Emergency Physians Prof 158.26
Envirotech Services Inc 13,711.72
Felger Ramos LLC/Maria 100.00
Fibernet Monticello 359.80
Force America Inc 208.64
Hardings Towing Inc 187.03
Herald Journal Publishing Inc 291.43
Hillyard Inc - Minneapolis 1,831.07
Holiday Inn - Duluth 153.90
Hsbc Business Solutions 179.08
Impact Proven Solutions 16,830.00
Intereum Inc 1,121.89
International Public Mngmt 369.00
Kaplan Professional Schools 475.00
Keaveny Ltc Pharmacy 312.05
Kustom Signals Inc 804.99
Liman Post & Beam 331.31
Loberg Electric 453.21
Lundeen/Douglas E 12,512.00
Mariposa Publishing 288.09
Martin-McAllisters Consulting 400.00
McKinzie Metro Appraisal 2,000.00
Menards - Buffalo 176.72
Midway Iron & Metal Co Inc 365.12
Midwest Protection Agency Inc 1,764.92
MN CLE Inc 805.00
MN County IT Leadership As 250.00
Mn Sheriffs Association 174.00
Morrell Towing Inc 179.55
Morries Parts & Service Group 444.91
Nagell Appraisal & Consulting 20,550.00
Nelson & Associates/Neil 1,500.00
North American Salt Co 52,578.27
Office Depot 640.05
ORyans Conoco 175.00
Otsego/City Of 24,000.00
Powerplan OIB 266.36
Rhodes Lock & Glass 239.70
Russell Security Resource Inc 267.75
State of MN-Office Enterprise 1,215.00
Stephens Jr Inc/Walter F 252.95
T & M Towing And Snow Plowing 103.24
Viking Industrial Center 104.27
Waste Management-TC West 250.69
Westside Equipment 317.06
Wright County Jail Admin 5,578.00
Wright County Journal Press 822.87
Young/Delmond L 7,760.00
34 Payments less than 100 1,677.85
Final Total $333,690.49
The meeting adjourned at 10:30 A.M.
Published in the Herald Journal March 12, 2012.